It’s been a while. I keep coming to this site with the intention of doing something with it. But we all know with what the road to hell is paved.
I have recently read a number of books which I have had my eye on for some time. One of these is The Quiet American by Graham Greene. I will remain silent on it for the time being out of a quiet regard for its sensitive and powerful nature. I also need to wait for the feeling to return to my mental apparatus to a sufficient degree so as to write something non-kitschy. Don’t hold your breath.
One of the books I knocked over was Dashiell Hammett’s detective thriller The Maltese Falcon. After I read it, I jotted some schoolboy praise in the back, which I reproduce below. On reflection, I feel that there is a refractory period after you finish reading a book in which nothing worthwhile can be written. Conversely, there is not much energy or drive there when it comes to writing too long after the experience is over. I apologise for the subtly crude overtones, but I hold those truths to be self-evident, at least for me. Of course, it must be said that I have no talent whatsoever – an explanation which probably goes a long way.
Nonetheless, here is my post-read mini-review:
"The author displays an admirable and surprising clarity in seeing and describing the intricacies of real-world actions and circumstances. The offhand and casual descriptions afforded to the more banal movements and actions in a situation make the scenes grittier and more realistic and impart a stunning detail to the portraiture, making the reader feel almost as shrewd and sharp as the characters.
"Spade is a worthy prototype of an archetype, but without overdoing it. Even after the character’s traits have been imitated and parodied to death over the years, the original is more subdued than its illegitimate progeny and it is this tinge of normalcy that makes Samuel Spade believable. Hard-boiled never becomes one-dimensional.
"For all their occasional flaws – including unaccountable lapses in the judgment of otherwise crafty and astute characters – the narrative, its situations and actions are rendered all the more realistically human.
"No wonder that the Private Detective genre has become so recognisably an homage, if not a footnote, to The Maltese Falcon."
In light of my comments above about proximity to the time of reading, it is no wonder that this commentary is so recognisably fromage-y, if not a footnote, to The Maltese Falcon. Then again, it is a very well told and well written story. Even so, with all the writers that are praying at the tomb of Hammett, does a dead author really need his boots licked by yet another suppliant?
The Chairman of the Bored